Spring 2023 — Nonfiction

3 min readMay 31, 2023


Saltwater, or how witchcraft led me to address my guilt and grief by Madeleine Brown

Saltwater, or how witchcraft led me to address my guilt and grief is an excellent piece of creative nonfiction which we are very proud to have published in the Spring 2023 Issue of Spellbinder. Overall, Saltwater is a beautifully written emotional piece, but it is also so much more than that. In this piece, the author Madeleine Brown beautifully examined the process of overcoming grief, with all of its ebbs and flows. She used perfectly crafted metaphors as well as wrote in a tone that was never too grave. The characters are both lovable and relatable, while the story captures the reader from the endearing hook to the emotionally captivating ending.

This incredibly well-written piece begins with the protagonist feeling a sense of rotting in her house and looking up a potential home-made remedy. After stumbling upon some vague instructions for a spell using saltwater-filled jars, meant to help with the rotting, she starts looking around the kitchen and garden for all she needs.

“It was an unseasonably chilly night — the first thing I noticed when I opened the back door was the cold biting at my bare ankles — but it was lovely. For the town centre, it was quiet, and the stars had come out from under their usual blue-black blanket to decorate the night sky. The real attraction up there that night, though, was the moon. It was big and full and brilliantly bright, far brighter than I had seen it for some time, which felt quite serendipitous for my evening of spellcasting.”

As you can read from the quote above, Madeleine Brown’s writing is effortlessly witty and charming. This is something we as editors quickly recognised upon reading this piece, which made it immediately memorable and spellbinding.

While the protagonist continues to follow the instructions, she goes room to room to place the saltwater-filled jars she prepared. At some point during this, unexplored reflections and emotions — essential to explore when attempting to process a loss — bring up unexpected truths. I will leave the ending of the piece for you to find out about; all you need to know is that as a reader, and as an editor, I will continue to think about this piece for a very long time. Saltwater is really a precious creative nonfiction piece and, as we thought as editors when choosing this piece for publication, fitting with Spellbinder’s vision of pieces that spellbind, make the readers feel things, and bring an experimental aspect to the table all at the same time. In this piece, Madeleine Brown was able to merge a reflection on grief with a stupendous witchy story. The result is a perfect piece of writing which will remain with you until you need it to. It’s a must read!

Linda Arrighi, Nonfiction Editor

Photograph from Pexels.

This blog post, along with many others, is also available to read on the Spellnotes section of our website.

If you would like to read/ see this work in full, you can subscribe here. Our magazine is available in PDF and paperback format. Click here to find out more.




The official Spellbinder Blog, a platform for casual conversation between editors, contributors and readers. Curated by Spellbinder Quarterly Magazine.